Racism in Thailand — Alive and Well in the Teaching Industry

black woman teaching thailand

Does racism in Thailand exist?

Racism in Thailand has always been an issue as some Thais have a tendency to be somewhat xenophobic.

Having said that, however, you are highly unlikely to encounter racism as a tourist in Thailand, no matter what your nationality or skin color, as Thais also tend to be extremely hospitable and welcoming to any visitor to the country.

Where racism in Thailand does appear, however, is in finding employment and in the workplace — and, if you are a non-white looking for a teaching job, it’s unlikely you won’t face racism in Thailand as just about every non-white person I know has.

Racism in the teaching industry in Thailand

Racism in Thailand in the teaching industry is particularly bad as most schools only want a white face teaching their children. That is because the parents, who are the ones paying the fees, demand it. Yes, it really is as bad as that.

That is also why, if you are black (African or African-American/European, it doesn’t matter ), Asian (particularly Indian) or Middle-Eastern and looking for a job teaching English in Thailand, you may need to be prepared to encounter racism on a daily basis and expect to have it take you longer to get a job than a white person with the same qualifications.

Unfortunately, that is just the way it is. Not in every case with every person, but often enough for non-whites to take notice.

Problems finding a teaching job in Thailand if you are non-white

Case in point — an older Indian woman I know has been in Thailand for just over three months. She is a fully-qualified English teacher with 20 years work experience teaching in Australia. When she arrived, she also took and passed a TEFL course in Thailand so she would be sure to be as qualified as possible when it came to finding a job.

Three months later, after sending out hundreds of resumes and going to many job interviews, she still has not been offered a teaching job in Thailand.

All the white men she knows or meets, most of whom are not qualified teachers and some of whom don’t even have a university degree, all found jobs in a few days.

The only reason she didn’t? She is Indian.

In some respects, Thais don’t particularly care for Indians, and some will even admit it to your face. After all, they say they don’t understand the Indian accent, and they say Indians “smell” because of the food they eat.

So, when it comes to having an Indian teacher in a classroom, even a fully qualified one with 20 years teaching experience in a western country, most Thai school administrators will still hire a 20-year-old white backpacker with no teaching experience, and without a university degree, before they will hire a non-white with qualifications and 20 years teaching experience.

Racism is anti-Thai not anti-non-white

What this type of racism in Thailand means is although non-whites suffer as it takes them much longer to find a job, Thai students suffer even more.

That is why this type of racism is actually anti-Thai.

After all, when a school will hire a 20-year-old white backpacker who wants to ‘teach’ for a couple of months, or an unqualified 50-year-old white man who is only in Thailand for the Thai women, before they will hire a fully-qualified teacher, who just happens to be Indian, Middle-Eastern, or black, how well do you think Thais are going to learn to speak English?

Not very well, if the truth were told.

Racism in Thailand — yes it is alive and well. At least in the teaching industry.